Let's score another one for Sweden, shall we? This time, a more subtle, post-metal band that uses their heaviness to lure you in to the rich, textured layers of melody that lie beneath the tumultuous surface. Rites of Separation is anything but separate, in fact, it's a well-blended mix of atmospheric, expansive song-crafting and driving rhythm led by powerful riffing. Can't say enough about how creative this really is.

There are five songs on Rites but like most bands in this style, time means nothing. The songs unfold how they should and if it takes 10 or 15 minutes, so be it. In fact, only one song comes in under the 10 minute mark, but that's fine. They command our attention and hold us rapt no matter what. It's like getting lost inside a painting, before you know it you've been staring at it for a half hour.

There's enough heaviness on this to keep the heads banging, though. Agrimonia knows when it needs to rock and doesn't get too lost in dreamland. It's nice to know that the gates of sleep await and are so close by, though. As the album progresses, the songs do become a bit more shoegaze and while there are still heavy riffs, a lethargy seems to infuse them... kind of sounds like those dreams where you're walking up the stairs and somehow you can't reach the top. It's a different kind of sludge, one more indicative of a growing torpor as opposed to a stoned daze.

The more I listen to this the more I enjoy it. Moody and passionate, open and darkly panoramic, energetic when it needs to be and ultimately expiring like the death of a star not big enough to go supernova... tinged with the haunting sadness of regret... this album is almost perfectly executed.